In brief

In brief

  • Now more than ever, public sector organizations recognize the need for innovation but for most of them, innovation is not prevalent.
  • For those PS organizations at the forefront of adopting Innovation, we call them Innovation Drivers.
  • Canada has adapted and risen to the toughest challenges through COVID-19.
  • Now it’s time to capitalize on and build upon that innovation progress. Canada is poised to rejoin the ranks of Innovation Drivers.

Canada's innovation evolution

In 2001, Canada was amongst the most innovative nations worldwide.

Today – Canada’s ranking has slipped to #9 in 13 countries surveyed which reflects a similar drop in ranking across multiple Innovation Indexes over last two decades.

Looking forward, to the future, we see Canada positioned and gaining momentum to rise to the challenge again. While many other countries have struggled in response to COVID-19, Canada’s response was among the best. Additionally, citizens believed strongly in the support the government provided.

Lessons from the drivers

Lesson #1 – Embrace Ambitious Change

Innovation drivers demonstrate a strong ability to sense, react, and adapt to disruption and rising demand for services.

Canadian government leaders on average were:


behind global peers in anticipating disruption.


behind innovation drivers in anticipating disruption.

Lesson #2- Invest Wisely

Innovation drivers strike the right balance between delivering essential services, while innovating in promising new directions.

Canadian organizations estimated that while they outspend peers on improving effectiveness of their core services, they are behind on investments in new technology and transformation of legacy systems.


more likely than global peers to be prioritizing investment in core and legacy systems.


more likely than innovation drivers to be prioritizing investment in core and legacy systems.

Lesson #3- Prioritize Collaboration

Innovation drivers are savvy at tapping into ecosystems, to fuel their innovation pipelines.

Drivers collaborate with other public and private sector organizations, tapping into successful new models and ideas.

Canadian organizations can place greater importance on pursuing strategic partnerships—especially outside of government—and terminating specific services/capabilities which could both support new services and innovation.


more likely than their peers to prioritize research and development with partners.


more likely than their peers to prioritize innovation centers.


more likely than their peers to prioritize promoting ideas on external platforms.

Forging ahead

So what is to stop Canadian organizations from returning to the ranks of innovation drivers? Nothing.

All that is needed is the innovation discipline and to forge a path forward.

Recognize the extent of transformation necessary to lead among other governments—and the role innovation plays in getting there, including reconceiving outcomes.

Get the basics right—invest in and develop adequate technology infrastructure (e.g. cloud migration) so that new technology adoption can be easily obtained and scaled.

Foster ecosystem partnerships to drive innovation. (e.g. R&D in collaboration with partners, crowdsourcing ideas externally, and piloting new services with users).

Redefine operating models and the approach to governing innovation in a way that is both efficient and fosters a balance between old and new.

Take action to continue the momentum around citizen trust and government transparency which are foundational to developing enhanced citizen services.

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